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Microgrid & Control Systems

Microgrids can power a single building like a hospital or police station, or a collection of buildings, like an industrial park or university campuses.

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Why Texzon Utilities for Microgrids?

What is a microgrid

A microgrid is a self-sufficient energy system that serves a localized geographic footprint, such as a college campus, hospital complex, business center or neighborhood. Within microgrids are one or more kinds of distributed energy such as solar panels, wind turbines, combined heat and power generators that produce its power. In addition, many newer microgrids contain energy storage, typically from batteries such as thermal and lithium ion. Some also now have electric vehicle charging stations. Interconnected to nearby buildings, the microgrid provides electricity and possibly heat and cooling for its customers, delivered via sophisticated software and control systems.

 

Microgrids are local power grids that can be operated independently of the main – and generally much bigger – electricity grid in an area. Microgrids can be used to power a single building like a hospital or police station, or a collection of buildings, like an industrial park, university campus, military base or neighborhood. Groups of microgrids that are linked together can also power bigger areas, like towns or cities.

 

When storms or power outages shut down the main electricity grid in an area, large numbers of homes, businesses and critical services can be affected. This is because traditional electricity grids can cover whole countries or continents. For example, in the United States, the power grid connects 145 million customers and 7,300 power plants with around 160,000 miles of high-voltage power lines, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Microgrids can switch away from the main grid and continue to provide power during emergencies like these. This process is known as ‘islanding’. Microgrids can also provide power in remote places that have no access to electricity.​

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A microgrid is local

First, this is a form of local energy, meaning it creates energy for nearby customers. This distinguishes microgrids from the kind of large centralized grids that have provided most of our electricity for the last century. Central grids push electricity from power plants over long distances via transmission and distribution lines. Delivering power from afar is inefficient because some of the electricity – as much as 8% to 15% – dissipates in transit. A microgrid overcomes this inefficiency by generating power close to those it serves; the generators are near or within the building such as solar power, combined heat and power, behind the meter wind turbine power, and geothermal storage.​

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A microgrid is independent

 

Second, a microgrid can be disconnect from the central grid and operate independently. This islanding capability allows it to supply power to its customers when grid failure such as weather causes an outage on the power grid. In the US, the central grid is especially prone to outages because of its sheer size and interconnectedness – more than 5.7 million miles of transmission and distribution lines. As we learned painfully during what’s known as the Northeast Blackout of 2003, a single tree falling on a power line can knock out power in several states, even across international boundaries into Canada. By islanding, a microgrid escapes such cascading grid failures.

 

While microgrids can run independently, most of the time they do not (unless they are in a remote area where there is no central grid or an unreliable one). Instead, microgrids typically remain connected to the central grid. If the central grid is operating normally, the two function in a kind of symbiotic relationship, as explained below.​

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A microgrid is intelligent

 

Third, a microgrid – especially advanced systems – is intelligent. This intelligence emanates from what’s known as the microgrid controller, the central brain of the system, which manages the generators, batteries and nearby building energy systems with a high degree of sophistication. The controller orchestrates multiple resources to meet the energy goals established by the microgrid’s customers. They may be trying to achieve lowest prices, cleanest energy, greatest electric reliability or some other outcome. The controller achieves these goals by increasing or decreasing use of any of the microgrid’s resources – or combinations of those resources – much as a conductor would call upon various musicians to heighten, lower or stop playing their instruments for maximum effect.

 

A software-based system, the controller can manage energy supply in many ways. But here’s one example. An advanced controller can track real-time changes in the power prices on the central grid. (Wholesale electricity prices fluctuate constantly based on electricity supply and demand.) If energy prices are inexpensive at any point, it may choose to buy power from the central grid to serve its customers, rather than use energy from, say, its own solar panels. The microgrid’s solar panels could instead charge its battery systems. Later in the day, when grid power becomes expensive, the microgrid may discharge its batteries rather than use grid power.

 

Microgrids may contain other energy resources – combined heat and power, wind power, reciprocating engine generators, fuel cells – that add even greater complexity and nuance to these permutations. Working together via complex algorithms, the microgrid’s resources create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. They drive system performance to a level of efficiency none could do alone. All of this orchestration is managed in a near instantaneous fashion – autonomously. There is no need for human intervention.​

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Easily coordinate power assets to build self-managing microgrids and fleets from the ground up

 

  • Optimizes the utilization of on-site renewable energy generation

  • Minimizes utility costs

  • Maximizes market participation uptake

Mitigate project risks

  • Reduce price and project risks

  • Leverage cutting-edge control technologies to optimize project economics

  • Eliminate project uncertainty

Simplify microgrid deployment

  • Simplify microgrid controls and optimization with a decentralized, modular solution

  • Scale and integrate complex distributed energy systems

  • Standardize highly-customized DER uncertainty

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TEXZON UTILITIES

Let's talk to empower your microgrid goals.

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